Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Quick Poetry Review: Mute by Raymond Luczak

I stumbled into Galludet's Spring issue of the Deaf Studies Digital Journal (http://dsdj.gallaudet.edu/), and discovered several storytellers and poets I didn't know about, one of those being Raymond Luczak who recited a poem from his book Mute

Mute by Raymond Luczak (Midsummer Night's Press, 2010) is a collection of poetry that investigates language, the body, and where love intersects, falls away from, or struggles across those worlds.  

"How to Fall for a Deaf Man" begins the collection and sets up one of the recurring themes in the book, which is to ask the imagined, potential partner (typically a hearing person) to move outside of himself and experience the world in a way that creates shared experiences--shared experiences between the speaker in the poem and the experience the imagined partner does not have:

As you drive home, notice how rhythmic
telephone poles and corner signs are.
Wonder why no one ever thinks of making music
for eyes alone.

Pockets of vivid imagery like this occur across the book while colliding with the subtext that underscores many of the poems, which is how often the voice of the poems has been misunderstood, mistreated, isolated and interrupted by the "you," who is both the hearing partner (or potential partner) and, due to direct address, the reader.  Mute, then, is in some ways the total love poem--for it both understands what is keeping the I and you apart and is, therefore, trying to sew together, poem by poem, experiences and images and memories so that I and you can, as Adrienne Rich writes, 

move openly together
in the pull of gravity, which is not simple,
which carries the feathered grass a long way down the upbreathing air. 
(from II., in Twenty-One Love Poems)

Mute deals with more than just this, for it isn't just a beautiful how-to guide for pointing out the difficulties in loving across two languages; it also responds to the experience of watching friends die, of memories never said to those now gone.  But regardless the focus, the lines are always patient, careful, wondering.  

Overall, Mute is a well constructed collection, and the book itself is built nicely, enjoyable to hold in the hands, and about the size of your back pocket.

Ordering Mute online:
Order Mute from Amazon or the press itself (free shipping via the press, and more royalties to the poet, as always). 

Checking out Mute from your nearest library:
And, as always, check to see what library closest to you has the book available, and if it's not available, ask your librarian to order a copy. 

More about Raymond Luczak:
Visit his website here.  
Luczak recites one of his poems from Mute, "Instructions to Hearing Persons Desiring a Deaf Man" on YouTube.